Remarks by Assistant Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu
At the Opening Ceremony of the United Nations International Meeting
In Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace
Beijing, 18 June 2013
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me begin by extending, on behalf of the Chinese Government, warm congratulations on the opening of the United Nations International Meeting in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace in Beijing.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Oslo Accords. It is of special significance to host the UN International Meeting in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace at this commemorable moment, as the meeting offers a platform for all parties to discuss a just and proper settlement of the Palestinian question. In the next two days, I hope the participants will speak out your minds and make suggestions for the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.
Over the past 20 years, much historic progress has been made thanks to the concerted efforts of relevant parties. And it has been widely recognized that this question shall be settled peacefully through negotiations. The Palestinian people have gained self-governance in some parts of the West Bank of the Jordan River and the Gaza Strip. Last year, Palestine successfully obtained the status as a UN Observer state, making another important step towards establishing an independent state. At the same time, Palestine and Israel still have major differences on a series of key issues, and the efforts to promote peace talks and make further headway towards the goal of realizing the "two-state solution" are confronted with many difficulties and challenges.
For many years, the United Nations has worked unrelentingly to advance the Palestinian-Israeli peace process. It has adopted a series of resolutions on the Palestinian question which have served as an important basis for the Palestinian-Israeli peace talks. As a member of the Quartet mechanism of the Middle East issue, the UN has played a constructive role in advancing the peace talks. The UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People has held various activities around the world, helping attract more attention and garner more support from the international community for settling the Palestinian question. China supports the UN in playing a bigger role in the ultimate realization of peace between Palestine and Israel.
The Palestinian question is the core of the Middle East issue. It bears on not only peace and security of the Middle East region, but also world peace and stability. To realize peace between Palestine and Israel according to the "two-state solution" is the expectation of people across this region and the international community. The Chinese government and people firmly support the just cause of the Palestinian people and the Palestinian-Israeli peace process. We support the establishment of an independent state of Palestine enjoying full sovereignty on the basis of the 1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital, the realization of peaceful coexistence of Palestine and Israel through peace talks and enhanced peace and stability in the Middle East. Last month, we hosted the Palestinian President and the Israeli Prime Minister on their separate visits to China. President Xi Jinping raised the Four-point Proposal for the Settlement of the Palestinian Question. That is, the right direction to follow should be an independent Palestinian State and peaceful co-existence of Palestine and Israel; negotiation should be taken as the only way to peace between Palestine and Israel; principles such as "land for peace" should be firmly upheld; the international community should provide important guarantee for progress in the peace process. These are major measures taken by China to advance the Palestinian-Israeli peace talks. I believe these measures will exert important and far-reaching impact on the settlement of the Palestinian question. In this connection, I would like to share with you my observations:
First, we need to redouble efforts to promote peace talks. The long-standing stalemate of the Palestinian question has inflicted pains on the Palestinian people. Regional turbulence has exacerbated the sufferings of the Palestinian people and may further escalate if the security and humanitarian situation of the occupied Palestinian territory is not improved. The international community should be fully aware of the important and urgency of settling the Palestinian question and make every effort to promote the resumption of peace talks.
Second, we need to uphold the principles and consensus. We should continue to work towards the "two-state solution" through peaceful negotiations. To establish an independent state is an inalienable right of the Palestinian people and the key to the settlement of the Palestinian question. At the same time, Israel's right to exist and its legitimate security concerns should also be respected. Such existing outcomes as the principle of "land for peace", the relevant UN resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative have not come easily and should be all the more cherished.
Third, we can accomplish easier tasks before moving to more difficult ones and build up achievements along the way. As an ancient Chinese saying goes, a-thousand-mile distance can only be completed by taking small but steady steps. An incremental approach is needed in settling the Palestinian question. We may start from specific issues and produce tangible results on these issues. The immediate priority is to take credible steps to stop settlement activities, end violence against innocent civilians, lift the blockade of the Gaza Strip and properly handle the issue of Palestinian prisoners in order to remove obstacles and foster a good atmosphere for peace talks. The Chinese side calls upon both the Palestinian and Israeli sides to take a long-term view and work for early resumption of and concrete progress in the peace talks.
Fourth, we need to seek a comprehensive solution. To settle the Palestinian question, the dual tracks of political negotiations and improvement of people's livelihood need to be advanced at the same time. Peace and development are closely connected and mutually reinforcing. To grow the economy of the Palestinian region, increase jobs and raise the self-sufficiency rate of the Palestinian government will help fundamentally alleviate the sufferings of the Palestinian people and boost their confidence in the peace process. The international community should increase input in this aspect and actively carry out practical cooperation with Palestine.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
To end violence and embrace peace is the shared aspiration and dream of people in Palestine, Israel and the rest of the world. We sincerely hope that this dream will be realized at an early date. I am convinced that this meeting will help pool wisdom of all parties, boost confidence in peace and advance the peace talks. I wish this meeting a complete success.